Meet Ralph. He is 80 years old, he's a Navy veteran who served in the Korean war, he's a widower, a homeowner and longtime resident of the District of Columbia. He never had children and has no remaining family. Until December 2010, he lived quite happily in his tiny, one room apartment in a small coop building in the Dupont Circle neighborhood.
In December 2010, Ralph became ill and was taken to the hospital, where he soon recovered. Rather than allowing him to return home, he was moved to a care facility where he has remained ever since. He is well cared for and is treated well. However, Ralph is healthy and has been cleared to return home. All he wants is to go home. Unfortunately, Ralph has become tangled in the safety net and is now mired in a financial and legal mess. His story has become like a bad dream and he needs our help.
How did this happen?Ralph is on social security and during the entire time he has been in the hospital and the care facility, the state has been collecting his benefits to pay for his care. Therefore, his coop fees have gone unpaid for three years. At $250/month plus a $25 late fee, his coop fees have accrued to approximately $10,000.
In addition, the bathroom in Ralph's apartment is in need of repair. On his very limited income, he was never able to have his shower and sink repaired. Now that he is a ward of the state, officials responsible for releasing him cannot do so until his home is safe for his return. Estimates to repair his bathroom are $4,000.
Finally, the coop has filed legal paperwork to collect the considerable back fees. All legal fees accrued will also be added to Ralph's debt. As of November 2013, the legal fees are approximately $6,000.TOTAL: $20,000
Who am I and why do I care?I'm Ralph's neighbor and I live in the apartment above his. Before he left in 2010, we weren't close friends but I always tried to help him out when I could. Little things like giving him my television when I got a new one because his was in bad shape, taking a plate of hot food to him when I made too much or getting him coffee. He loves his coffee.
Two years ago in May 2011, I lost my dad after his long fight with heart and kidney problems.
Like Ralph, my dad was a Navy veteran, he loved to listen to music, watch old movies and football and read the newspaper. Like Ralph, if you didn't know my dad you might have assumed he was just a grouchy old man. But unlike Ralph, my dad got to spend his last years at home where he was free to enjoy the things he loved. I cannot imagine my dad having to spend his last years alone in a care facility and I don't want that for Ralph either.
What does Ralph need to go home?
In order for Ralph to move home, he needs:
1. $10,000 to pay all his back coop fees
2. $4,000 to pay for repairs to his bathroom
3. $6,000 to pay legal fees
We would also LOVE for any local contractors to make an in-kind donation for the bathroom renovations!
PLEASE NOTE: This is a fixed funding campaign, so if we don't reach our full fundraising goal, your donation will be refunded. Unfortunately, Ralph's situation requires the full amount to allow him to move home and partial funding would not help him.
Any funds raised above the goal will be applied toward future expenses and/or to purchase new furniture and appliances for his apartment.
What's in it for you?Check out the perks! Sorry, we can't offer any sweet swag or glamorous goodies, but if you join Team Ralph, you will receive gratitude, recognition and a warm and fuzzy glow for the holidays.
Why should you care?
Ralph isn't a hero. He's just an ordinary guy. But he did everything right, he served his country, he loved his wife, he worked hard and paid for his home. He didn't commit a crime or neglect to pay his bills. All he did was get sick and somehow found himself stuck in a place where he had lost his autonomy, his freedom and could soon lose his home. If this can happen to Ralph, it can happen to anyone.
Sometimes we get overwhelmed by all the problems in the world and it feels like we can't possibly make a difference. But we have a chance to make all the difference to Ralph.
Other Ways You Can Help
Every donation counts, but even if you can't contribute, please help us get the word out! You never know who this story can reach and how many people may be moved to help him out.
- Please share Ralph's story with your friends and family and ask them to pass it on.
- Please share Ralph's story with organizations that support either elderly or veterans. Post it to their facebook and twitter pages and share on message boards.
- Please use the Indiegogo share tools!
If you are a contractor licensed in DC, please consider contributing the materials and/or labor to repair Ralph's bathroom so it can be approved for his return. If you know someone who owns or works for a DC home improvement company, please ask them if they would consider making an in-kind donation of materials and labor.
** Special thanks to my friend Karen for her excellent photography!